Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 lands in Phoenix

I teased "I might do this again next week for the Indiana primary, in which case I'll feature the Indiana and Purdue University marching bands in addition to the Star United minicorps" at the conclusion of Drum corps for the Pennsylvania and Connecticut primaries.  I'm not feeling it today.*

Instead, I'm following up on Solar Impulse 2 lands in California with the next leg of the trip.  Euronews has the video in Bye bye San Francisco, destination Phoenix for Solar Impulse 2.

The plane Solar Impulse 2 took off from San Francisco early on Monday heading for Phoenix, Arizona - the latest leg of its trip around the world to promote clean energy.
The Arizona Republic has the rest of the story in Solar plane lands in Phoenix area as global trek continues.
Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane making its way around the world, made its long-awaited stop in the Phoenix area Monday, touching down to cheers and applause, but otherwise nearly silently, at Phoenix Goodyear Airport at 8:55 p.m.

The Swiss-made plane had taken off from Mountain View, Calif., for Arizona shortly after 5 a.m. Monday to continue its global journey using only energy from the sun.

Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg was at the helm of the plane that began circumnavigating the earth more than a year ago.

"It was a beautiful flight from California to Arizona," Borschberg, 63, told a large crowd that had gathered at the airport shortly after disembarking. He hardly looked like someone who had just spent 16 hours by himself in a single-seater plane.
The timing of the flight was fortuitous, coinciding with a debate over the future of solar power in Arizona.
When asked if their timing was meant to coincide with an ongoing debate in Arizona over solar-energy subsidies, Piccard said it was not.

"We did not plan to come during the debate," he said. "But if it helps, we'll be happy."

The Solar Impulse project has always been about delivering a message, Piccard said, more than delivering passengers. The plane is meant to spark a conversation about renewable and efficient energy.

"There are reliable, profitable solutions to have clean energy and to save energy." Piccard said. "When you see an airplane like Solar Impulse, it's not science fiction. It is the present."
That's part of the message in the AFP video about Solar Impulse 2.

Solar Impulse 2, an experimental aircraft flying around the world to draw attention to clean energy technologies, is to take flight again on Monday, organizers said.VIDEOGRAPHIC
As for the plane's next stop, The Daily Mail reported "The solar-powered plane, which stores energy in batteries for when the sun is not shining, will make several stops across the United States, although the team is still examining potential destinations."  In other words, they don't know yet.  Stay tuned.

*I might do it for the Oregon Primary.  At least there is an active competitive drum corps on the field there, the Oregon Crusaders.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Theme for May 2016: SNAPSHOT

I've been using a snapshot label for the first two posts of this month without explanation.  BlogHer explains why in Give Us a Snapshot of Your Life with May's Writing Lab.
So what is the BlogHer Writing Lab theme this month?


It's a busy time of the year. School is coming to a close, spring cleaning is underway, and brains are turning towards beach plans. So if you're taxed for time, you're going to love this month's theme.

Snapshots. You take them every day with your phone or camera. You capture moments in images. I'm not going to go into all the cliches about how pictures are worth a thousand words because you already know how much your photographs mean to you. All you need to do is take a quick perusal of Instagram to see how we connect over pictures.
I'm not primarily a photo blogger, although I just found out I have access to Google Photos and can post pictures from my smartphone there.  I might take advantage of that capability this month.  In the meantime, I'm more interested in statistical snapshots than photographic ones, so I'm as likely to post a graph or chart as I am an image.  As for the prompts, I'll pass.
So join the May BlogHer Writing Lab and give us a snapshot of your life.
I always do.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tyrion Lannister ties Sanders and beats Clinton and Trump

Last December, I passed along the results of a poll in Obi-Wan Kenobi for President and Darth Vader beats Trump but not Clinton showing that Americans would prefer the fiction Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi over the real-life Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Last week, Survey Monkey released its own polls in advance of the season 6 premiere for "Game of Thrones."  The result?  More choose Tyrion Lannister for President over Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders and Tyrion Lannister neck-and-neck for President; Daenerys Targaryen beats Ted Cruz and Donald Trump

After a long and contentious primary season, we may finally have found someone who appeals to both Democrats and Republicans: Tyrion Lannister. We asked survey takers who they would prefer as President of the United States. Bernie Sanders and Tyrion Lannister were neck and neck, Hillary Clinton came in third, while Donald Trump was a distant fifth.

Only Bernie Sanders would have a chance against The Imp, while The Queen of Dragons would beat Donald Trump.  Now I wonder how Sanders would have fared against Yoda and Ben Kenobi.  Absent that poll, it's time to break out this campaign poster.

While Sanders and Trump supporters broke along expected liberal and conservative lines, Tyrion attracted support from across the political spectrum.

Oh, look, a uniter, not a divider!  As the meme I featured in Game of Thrones: 2012 Campaign Edition says about both Tyrion and Stephen Colbert:
Often underestimated as a joker.  Too cool for the job.  Would probably freakin' rock at it.
Despite the preference for fictional candidates over the real ones, Americans recognize our current system of government is preferable to that of the Seven Kingdoms.
But America still prefers the White House to the Iron Throne

Despite all the political frustration, 75% of respondents selected the United States as a better functioning government than the Seven Kingdoms. So while we may gripe about the government being broken and do-nothing Congress, things could be worse!

Yes, a democracy within a republic that channels handles its political conflict by the ballot instead of the bullet is better than a monarchy in the midst of civil war.  May we continue to keep it that way.

Enough of how the fictional characters from "Game of Thrones" would fare in our world.  For a silly examination of how this election's real candidates would fit into the Seven Kingdoms, I recommend Trump is coming and he's building a wall, which concludes with this picture worth 1000 words.

For a more serious discussion, read This professor determines which presidential candidates would be in Game of Thrones from Vox.  It agrees with the above picture that Trump would be a Lannister pretending to be a Baratheon.  So would Clinton on the Democratic side.

Americans may want a Lannister, but it looks like Tyrion won't be on the ballot this November.  Darn.

A big top drum corps maypole for May Day

Happy May Day and Blessed Beltane!  Once again, I'm putting my distinctive spin on the holiday by posting about drum corps maypoles.  This year, I stretch things a bit by showing a maypole being used as a proxy for a circus tent.  Take it away, 1981 Bridgemen!

The Bridgemen’s seventh-place production commenced with Julius Fucik’s “Thunder and Blazes,” written in 1897 and perhaps the most popular circus march ever. Originally titled “Grande Marche Chromatique” and often referred to as “Entry of the Gladiators,” the title “Thunder and Blazes” was given to the piece by Canadian composer Louis-Philippe Laurendeau in 1910 when he arranged it for wind band.
That was fun!

I could do this one more time, and that would be if I can find a video of the 1978 Santa Clara Vanguard dancing around the maypole.  I have a year to find it.  I can always hope someone will upload one.  Anyone, anyone, Bueller, anyone?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dez's turn for an April driving update plus bonus gas prices

Dez turned over 51,000 miles on Wednesday April 27th, exactly six weeks after she passed 50,000 miles on March 16th.  That puts it right on the schedule I expected in this month's update for Pearl when I wrote I'll see how much the household is adding to the total when I update Dez at the end of the month."  That means my wife and I drove her car an average of 23.81 miles per day or 726.2 miles per standard month.  That's a lot more than the 9.9 miles/per day or 302.0 (301.98) miles per standard month we drove it between December and March and even more than the 16.67 miles per day or 508.33 miles per standard month we drove the car between October and December.  What increased the mileage so dramatically?  Simple--my wife took the car in for service, then drove to see our daughter in Chicago.  As I wrote in December, "sustainability is a priority, but so is family, and driving while gas is cheap makes keeping in touch more practical."

Combined with the 17.86 miles per day or 544.6 miles per standard month I drove Pearl this month, my wife and I drove a total average of 40.48 miles per day and 1270.8 miles per month.  WOW!  For once, we really are contributing to the trend of increased driving by Americans, as shown by this graph from Doug Short.

"Travel on all roads and streets changed by 5.6% (12.4 billion vehicle miles) for February 2016 as compared with February 2015." The less volatile 12-month moving average was up 0.39% month-over-month and 3.0% year-over-year.
As for what the immediate future holds, expect less driving for Pearl over the summer as I have fewer meetings to attend, I drive to only the nearest campus to teach, and I walk more as the weather improves.  That the sidewalk has been extended on the way to the nearest store will help, as does my having a Fitbit.  Nothing like monitoring my activity to induce me to walk more.

Dez will probably be more in line with the 16.67 miles per day or 508.33 miles per standard month she logged between October and December.  Consequently, the family will drive a little less next time.

Follow over the jump for the gas price report.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Air pollution from everyday items: Student Sustainability Video Festival 53

I know I promised "another retrospective for Flashback Friday" in the conclusion to Alignment charts for the fifth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, but I'm not feeling it this morning.  Since I'm in the middle of giving my students their final exams, which means I should be grading papers instead of blogging, I'm going to return to my old standby for the end of the semester, the student sustainability video festival.  The last one was Cloning endangered animals: Student sustainability video festival 52, so I resume with number 53.*  Without any further ado, here's 5 Everyday Things Ruining Our Air from Discovery News.

Each and every day, you might be using some common items that are terrible for the environment and depleting Earth's atmosphere!
I'll get around to that retrospective later.  Stay tuned for a mileage/gas price update as the last post of April followed by two entertainment entries for Sunday, and another student sustainability video on Monday.

*It really should be 54 as I duplicated a number by accident, but that's a story for another day.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Alignment charts for the fifth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News

I'm enjoying posting retrospectives on Throwback Thursday, so I'm continuing with the series about the top entries of the past blogging year.  Today' theme uses alignment charts of characters from speculative fiction.  I begin with D&D alignment charts for 'The Walking Dead', the seventh most read post of the fifth year of the blog.  As of March 20, 2016, it 1287 page views according ot the raw counter and was the highest ranking post of the past year not to get on the all-time top ten. 

Like my previous entries, I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle how it earned most of those page views, this time from Monthly meta for April 2015: record page views plus goals, top posts, and Nablopomo for May 2015.
The final honorable mention for April 2015 belongs to "D&D alignment charts for 'The Walking Dead'."  Before it fell off the monthly top ten a couple days before the end of the month, it had 135 page views, 192 according to the raw counter.  It earned nearly all of its page views from normal social media promotion and web search.  The rest came from sharing the link in a comment at Michigan Liberal.
The entry returned to the monthly top ten several times.  Here is what I wrote about it for August.
The second alignment chart entry as well as the second entry about zombies to make August's top ten was "D&D alignment charts for 'The Walking Dead'."  This blast from the past, posted March 29, 2015, earned its 159 page views by being first searched for during a marathon of "The Walking Dead" to promote "Fear the Walking Dead," and then shared on the science fiction and horror groups on Facebook that same day.  Nothing like striking while the iron is hot to return it to the top ten, where it placed seventh overall.
It returned again in October.
"D&D alignment charts for 'The Walking Dead'" was the first of three entries from the back catalog to make October's top ten.  This entry came in eighth with 167 page views, earning them solely through search.  I don't recall sharing this in time for the premiere of season 6, so I had nothing to do with its renewed success.
Finally, November.
"D&D alignment charts for 'The Walking Dead'" posted March 29, 2015 was the next entry from the back catalog to make the top ten.  It came in seventh with 133 page views, which it earned entirely from web search.  Like last month, when it was the eighth most read entry, I did not promote it on communities and groups for "The Walking Dead" on Facebook and Google Plus.
Looks like I created an entry with evergreen interest.  I'll be sure to promote it when "The Walking Dead" returns in October.

Follow over the jump for the other alignment chart entry to make this year's top ten.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Drink to Chernobyl 30 years later

I introduced Drink to nuclear reactors on the anniversary of Three Mile Island by noting the proximity on the calendar of the three most famous nuclear disasters.
March is a good month for this drink.  Fukushima happened on March 11, 2011, and Three Mile Island happened on March 28, 1979.  As for Chernobyl, that has to wait until next month, when April 26 will be the 30th anniversary of the disaster.
That was yesterday.  I then concluded with this program note.
I already have an appropriate drink selected for the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl...
With that introduction, I'll leave the serious observations of yesterday's anniversary over the jump and begin with the drink humor from Tipsy Bartender: How to make the Nuclear Rainbow.

It's a beautiful drink and it's very potent....THE NUCLEAR RAINBOW! This is a layered cocktail with a gorgeous array of colors. This drink is all about presentation and perfect for impressing your friends with your awesome bartending skills! The layering effect takes some practice so watch and learn how to do it successfully. Layering is a great skill to have in your repertoire and if you can master it you'll be able to make all kinds of badass cocktails like this one!
1oz Melon Liqueur
1oz Sweet & Sour
1oz Grenadine
1oz Blue Curacao
1oz Bacardi 151
I picked this drink because of the colors seen from the open reactor core.
A shimmering plume of rainbow-colored light shot straight up, lighting the sky for miles. According to our guide, some residents rushed closer to watch the exploding reactor — unaware of the danger — later claiming it was the most beautiful thing they’d ever seen.
On that note, follow over the jump for more serious videos about the disaster.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Drum corps for the Pennsylvania and Connecticut primaries

I wrote "The next installment of this series should be next Tuesday, when I'll feature corps from Connecticut and Pennsylvania" in the conclusion to Drum corps for the New York primary.  It's "next Tuesday," so it's time to follow through on that promise.

I expected Trump and Clinton to win their primaries last week in New York and both did by convincing margins, Trump winning 60% and Clinton winning 58%, ending the streak of Sanders and Cruz victories in Utah, Idaho, Wisconsin, and other states ending in Wyoming.  New York didn't turn out to be another Michigan.  As I wrote, "As a Sanders supporter, I'd say I would be disappointed, if not surprised, but I don't even have high enough hopes for Sanders to really be disappointed."  Instead, I had my low expectations for his performance confirmed.

Both Clinton and Trump appear set to repeat their victories in tonight's states, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.  Of those, only Rhode Island looks favorable to Sanders, as it holds a "semi-closed" primary that allows independents to vote for one of the major parties, while the rest hold purely closed primaries.  Even so, both Clinton and Trump are leading in the most recent poll of the Ocean State.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that neither has a majority and there are lots of undecideds; Sanders and Kasich could still win the state.

Enough about the politics.  Time for my readers to enjoy the drum corps while they are waiting for the results.  I begin with The Cadets, who have hailed from Allentown, Pennsylvania since 2003.*  Here's a clip from their 2015 show, The Power of 10.

"The Power of 10" turned every yard line into a 10-yard line, and if you count up each of the number sequences in the corps’ “Mulholland Drive” ballad, you’ll come up with the number 10. Check out the Periodic Table of Elements to learn why the color guard was clad in neon colors. And any Romans in the audience had to be giddy every time there was an “X” prominently displayed in the drill formations. The entire production was goose bump inducing to the factor of … well, you know.
That wasn't even the most buzzworthy part of the show; this was: The Cadets 2015 Horn Feature.

It's been a long time since French horn bugles were in drum corps, so having actual French horns makes up for it.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the corps from the states involved in today's primary.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 lands in California

The last I wrote about Solar Impulse 2, the plane had landed in Hawaii.  That was in July.  It took until yesterday for it to complete the next leg of its around-the-world flight.  CNN has the story in Solar-powered plane lands in California.

An experimental plane flying around the world without a single drop of fuel landed in California after a two-and-a-half day flight across the Pacific. Video footage from KGO.
CNN has more in Solar Impulse 2 lands in California after Pacific flight.
An experimental plane flying around the world without a single drop of fuel landed in California after a two-and-a-half day flight across the Pacific.

Piloted by Swiss explorer and psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse 2 touched down in Mountain View just before midnight (3 a.m. ET).
The plane took off from Hawaii on Thursday, resuming a journey that had stalled on the island of Oahu for almost 10 months.
Tomonews had more about that 10 month day last week in Solar Impulse to set to resume round-the-world journey in late April.

HONOLULU — Solar Impulse 2, an aircraft that is attempting to make the first round-the-world solar-powered flight, is set to resume its journey in late April.

Solar Impulse 2 left Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015 and had flown to Muscat, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Mandalay, Chongqing, Nanjing, Nagoya and Hawaii, where it has been grounded since July after its batteries were damaged on the trip from Japan.

The plane's batteries became overheated after a quick ascent on the first day during the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii. The batteries had to be replaced before the plane could resume flying.

"The first half of the adventure was already a success, because we showed that solar energy made it possible to fly five days and five nights, and remaining airborne longer than any plane in history," Bertrand Piccard, one of the two pilots of the plane told The Billionaire.

The plane is ready to depart in late April, depending on the weather. It will continue the remaining half of its journey from Hawaii to North America, southern Europe before returning to Abu Dhabi this summer.
As soon as I watched the video last week, I had a feeling the plane would be flying on Earth Day.  I was right.

Stay tuned for more updates on the plane's circumnavigation of the planet, including its stops in the U.S. and eventual return to Abu Dhabi.